CITAC Shrimp Task Force

April 1, 2004


Dara Klatt The
PBN Company


Shrimpers’ Trade Petition Could Seriously Impact Price and Availability of America’s #1 Seafood; Hurt Consuming Industry Jobs

Washington , DC – Representatives of U.S. restaurants, grocers, seafood distributors and processors and other consuming industries and associations warned today that a $2.4 billion dumping petition filed by a small group of domestic shrimpers against imports from six countries could make shrimp once again a delicacy only the rich can afford and adversely impact thousands of American workers. The warning was made during a press conference announcing the Shrimp Task Force, an alliance between the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) and the American Seafood Distributors Association (ASDA), to fight the damaging petition filed with the International Trade Commission (ITC).

The trade case was filed on December 31, 2003 against Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, Ecuador, and Brazil, which account for about 75% percent of shrimp imports in the U.S. market, with a value of $2.4 billion. The petitioners are alleging dumping margins ranging from 30% to over 200%.

Erik Autor, CITAC Board Member and Vice President of National Retail Federation said, “ The goal of the Shrimp Task Force is to guarantee that shrimp continues to be widely available at a reasonable price for American consumers, and to ensure that the 250,000 American workers employed in shrimp consuming industries are not harmed by this petition. CITAC and ASDA have come together to combat the PR and lobbying campaign conducted by the petitioners and educate policymakers, the media and the public on the potential devastating ramifications of this baseless trade case. The facts need to get out. ”

Wally Stevens, President of ASDA added, “Shrimp is America's favorite seafood because of imports. It is a safe and healthy food, and over the past five years, has become a reasonably priced staple of Americans' diet instead of a luxury that only the wealthy can afford. This petition could take three quarters of this country's shrimp out of restaurants and grocery stores. The only way American consumers can be assured of a steady supply of shrimp, as they have become accustomed to, is to defeat this petition.”

Autor also explained that the small group of petitioners stand to gain a hefty financial windfall should duties be imposed because of the Byrd Amendment, a law that directs revenues from dumping duties to the petitioners and others who support the case. Those eligible (42 processors and 185 shrimp fishing firms) would receive a conservatively-estimated annual payment of $180 million or $ 829,493 for each company in payouts of antidumping special interest taxes on food imports. He also explained how materials circulated by the Southern Shrimp Alliance solicited support for the antidumping petitions by promoting Byrd monies as the primary motivation for joining the petition.

“When it boils down to it,” Autor said, “ this trade case is nothing more than an attempt by a small group to convince the U.S. government to place a food tax on consumers, which in turn, provides petitioners with a hefty financial windfall – all at the expense of American consumers.”

One shrimp processing executive, Russ Mentzer, CEO of King & Prince Seafood Company, in Brunswick , Georgia , a foodservice supplier that marinates and breads shrimp, joined with CITAC and ASDA representatives, saying, “Why are these shrimping jobs more important than our company's shrimp-processing jobs? And how are the petitioners able to use U.S. trade law to potentially take away American jobs? This trade case isn't going to help anyone – it's only going to make things worse. Jobs will be lost if huge duties are placed on imported shrimp. That's not right, and it's not fair.”

An economic analysis done by The Trade Partnership found that there are 20 US shrimp-consuming jobs involved in processing or distribution for every US shrimp-producing job, a 20 to 1 ratio, or 250,000 jobs to approximately 13,000. Higher prices for shrimp, if duties are imposed, will cause some of these shrimp processing and distribution jobs to disappear, and the take-home pay of others to suffer.

Concluded Autor, “The case will do nothing to ‘save American jobs,' as some petitioners have publicly said. It will only cost jobs and serve to deny consumers a healthy and safe food they want at an affordable price. U.S. shrimpers can't catch any more shrimp than they are already catching. The petition will result in shrimp being taken off the menu, off the shelf, and off of the table of millions of American families. Economic isolationism simply isn't the solution to the shrimpers' problems.”

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© 2004 CITAC Shrimp Task Force